Meeting people can be difficult for some. Even outgoing people sometimes struggle with what to say to someone when you meet them. Last week, Scott Young wrote about simply saying ‘Hi’ to people… anyone, really. This is great advice when taken to heart.
I’d like to dive into a few things you can say to anyone, pretty much anywhere. The key to any of this is to practice. Like anything else you might have some fear in doing – it won’t go away without working at it. Something you can try before you actually do it in real life, is to do it in a mental practice – simply envision yourself in a situation you find yourself in frequently (in line at Starbucks) and then picture yourself saying one of the phrases below.
Remember, people like to talk about themselves (yes, everyone). Most people are also uncomfortable talking to strangers. So what we need to do, while taking these two things into consideration, is get them talking about themselves while at the same time dropping their guard.
Hi by itself can be uncomfortable… many times, the person you’re saying hi to will say hi back, and then you’re back to square one. What we need are conversation starters.
The complement: “Nice boots, are those snake skin?”
Seriously, in a past sales job I had in Los Angeles, this sentence was used as a dramatic example of how to get someone talking. You can replace either part of the sentence, obviously. If I like someones jacket, I might say, “I really like that jacket, where did you get it?” Easy.
The share-alike: “Ah, I love tea too, have you tried the London fog?”
If you’re somewhere that it’s not invasive to over-hear someone (like them placing their order at a coffee shop), relate to them about their drink choice. You’ve automatically broken the ice and have a conversation started.
The follow-up: “It was nice meeting you, are you on Twitter/Facebook?”
Depending on the person and feel you get from them, you’ll typically know after the first sentence if you care to talk to them further. You have to assume the only way that will happen is if you ASK. If you’re in a crowd that might be typical Twitter or Facebook users, you can use that line. You can simply ask for a web site or email too. Or, have some business cards, or mini-cards, printed up and tell them to check out your blog if they have time. “I’d love to hear from you what you think about my site” is a very easy way to turn a passer-by into a contact.
Long-term, I like to acquire people’s mailing address and birthday to send them greeting cards (yes, I do this – and yes, you can send me your address and birthday and you’ll get a card, too!). If you don’t send cards, simple emails and messages on Facebook to let someone know you’re thinking of them is a powerful way to maintain and build that relationship.
Now that you have a few different things to say to someone you meet for the first time, let me know in the comments if you have any stories about meeting (or not meeting) a stranger, or if you have any other greetings you’d like to share!